When you buy a made in the USA liberal political t-shirt from us, part of the proceeds go to keeping the Irregular Times website going. But we also pledge part of the proceeds toward the improvement of people’s lives in other countries, and another part of the proceeds to bettering our political situation here at home. We’re not well-endowed like Ford Motor Companies or the Koch brothers, but we do our little bit.
This month, we’ve made a donation to Village Enterprise, which unlike Kiva avoids trapping people in debt cycles. Instead, as Village Enterprise puts it, “Village Enterprise gives small grants, not loans. We work in rural areas in Kenya and Uganda serving those who live on less than $1.25 per day.” Those grants go to a combination of the equipment needed to run a small business and the education needed to run a small business well. The approach works: of the more than 23,000 small businesses started by Village Enterprise, 75% are still in operation after 4 years, and 90% of those businesses have some savings. Of course, business isn’t the ultimate point of the whole exercise. Helping people improve their own lives is the point. On that point, 90% of the children of business aid recipients are enrolled in primary schools, and 75% of the participating households attain better food security.
Our at-home donation goes to the American Civil Liberties Union. Why? Because while the mainstream media publish articles about new unaffordable dresses with third sleeves, the ACLU spread the word about the story newspapers ignored: that the House of Representatives was getting ready to pass a 5-year extension of a warrantless electronic surveillance law. The ACLU does the kind of freedom-defending work that we can, and do, support.